BLITS: Advanced Software Setting Coriell Apart


From high performance freezers to precisely calibrated pipettes, it takes a great deal of advanced scientific equipment to operate a world-renowned biobank and research facility like the Coriell Institute for Medical Research.

There are many biobanks in the United States but few with the size and breadth of the collections of biosamples housed here at Coriell. Maintaining these precious samples necessitates the use of more than 1,000 different pieces of equipment each with its own unique calibration and maintenance schedule. To help our biobanking staff best manage all this equipment, the application development team of Coriell’s Information Technology department developed a powerful software tool named the Biobanking Logistics Inventory Tracking System – or BLITS.

“We identified a need to centralize all the critical information about our highly specialized scientific equipment needed to operate our biobank and got to work on a solution,” said Mark Bellafante, Coriell’s Chief Information Officer. “We have such a talented group of in-house application developers, so we were well positioned from the start to meet this goal.”

BLITS first launched a few years ago to track information about the ultra-low temperature freezers that Coriell uses to store its DNA samples. In the years since its launch, BLITS has grown organically. As staff members have found needs and made requests, the application team has added new features and modules allowing the system to track increasingly more information.

Soon it could not only track basic freezer information but also when each freezer needed to be defrosted and maintained according to manufacturer specifications. It also monitors when pipettes in Coriell’s laboratories need re-calibration.

In building BLITS, the application team knew that the users would not be bound to their desks. They’re busy auditing Coriell’s stem cell and molecular biology labs, or monitoring Coriell’s array of cryogenic equipment to ensure all samples are safely preserved at all times. As a result, the application team ensured BLITS was mobile friendly and ready to use on the go.

The constant monitoring of equipment also allows BLITS to process and produce monthly reports and metrics for Coriell management. These reports allow Coriell to proactively spot worrying trends before any issues arise and monitor internal performance for continuous improvement. 

“In addition to helping us stay current with best practices, BLITS has become a fantastic cost-savings tool for us,” Donna Altamuro, Coriell’s manager of Biobanking Logistics, said. “We’re able to catch certain issues and call for service before they become truly expensive problems.”

And as we continue to grow our already sizable biobank, BLITS remains a priority for our IT team. This powerful and specialized system ensures Coriell is well positioned to grow for years to come.

Other News